Employee COVID Claims
The COVID-19 outbreak has had a huge impact on people’s lives, including their daily habits, social practices, and work situations. Many people have lost their jobs during this time, while others have been forced to adapt to a work from home schedule. Workers who are deemed essential have it particularly difficult. They show up each day knowing there is potential risk to their health and safety.
So, what responsibility do employers have to their workers during this time? Personal injury attorney Roger “Rocky” Walton can help his Arlington, TX, clients understand if they have a potential employee COVID claim based on the actions their employers have taken in response to this pandemic.
Employment Laws and COVID
There are a number of employment laws in place on the local and federal level that are intended to protect a worker’s right to a safe work environment, protect against harassment or discrimination, and prevent wrongful termination.
It is fair to say that the COVID-19 situation is nothing like any other experienced by this generation, but these laws still apply. Although COVID-19 is not mentioned specifically in existing acts and laws, many can be directly applied to the COVID-19 situation, and these laws are about to be tested because legal claims are already being filed.
Recent Employee COVID Claim
ABC news reports that Walmart is facing a wrongful death lawsuit after an employee died as a result of COVID-19. The man’s family claims that Walmart failed to do their part to protect employees from the virus. The lawsuit alleges that, despite reporting potential symptoms of the virus, the employee continued to work for approximately two weeks. At that time, he was sent home, where he died two days later.
The wrongful death lawsuit is seeking damages for the family because Walmart failed to take basic safety measures to protect the man and other employees. At the very least, the lawsuit claims that Walmart had the obligation to notify workers that employees exhibited potential COVID-19 symptoms, and provide employees with personal protective equipment, such as masks and latex gloves, all of which they failed to do.
Occupational Safety and Health Act
The legal team in the Walmart lawsuit is calling on OSHA to investigate Walmart’s actions. Standards outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Act can be applied directly to this case and the COVID-19 outbreak in general. OSHA guidelines with particular relevance include OSHA’s personal protective equipment (PPE) standards, and the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
OSHA’s PPE standards require the use of gloves, eye and face protection, and respiratory protection when job hazards warrant it.
The General Duty Clause holds employers responsible for providing workers with an environment that is “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”
Understand Your Rights
It is important that our Arlington clients understand they still have rights in the face of COVID-19. If an employer is creating an unsafe work environment, their employees’ rights are being violated. Similarly, if a worker is being asked to ignore government orders (including stay-at-home orders), or if they are facing retaliation for taking legally allowed sick time or family and medical leave, they have legal options to consider, particularly if they have become ill as a result.
If you believe that your employer has put your health or safety at risk during the COVID-19 outbreak, attorney Roger “Rocky” Walton can advise you of your legal options. To discuss your situation in further detail, send us a message online at your earliest convenience or call our Arlington practice at (817) 727-4079.